Rugby: Wales' extra day off before clash mutes Ireland victory

By Adam Redmond

Rob Kearney dives over the line during Ireland's walkover against Scotland to claim the Six Nations title. Photo / Getty Images
Rob Kearney dives over the line during Ireland's walkover against Scotland to claim the Six Nations title. Photo / Getty Images

Joe Schmidt barely had time to savour his first Six Nations victory as Ireland coach as he identified Wales' seven-day turnaround as a huge advantage going into their game with the reigning champions on Saturday.

Ireland saw off Scotland yesterday at Lansdowne Rd with tries from Andrew Trimble and captain Jamie Heaslip either side of halftime doing the job.

But Schmidt maintained that Warren Gatland's team have already got the jump on Ireland, having played Wales in the early game on Saturday.

"It's hard to quantify, but it is massive to have a six versus seven-day turnaround," said Schmidt.

"One of the things they [Wales] can do is rest up overnight and will be sitting there watching our game with a full focus on what they're doing for next week.

"It's a massive advantage, just the quality of training you can do. On Tuesday we [won't] do a lot and we'll try to ramp it up for one session on Thursday, so it's a pretty narrow window of preparation."

Relief was an overriding emotion at the final whistle for the Irish camp who suffered the loss of captain Paul O'Connell with a chest infection.

The early exchanges were typical of an opening-round encounter between two teams who hadn't played since November and were still trying to shake off an element of stiffness.

Initially the tactics looked rudimentary but astute.

Scotland sought to get Sean Maitland's hands on the ball as often as possible and the New Zealand-raised winger kept appearing off the blindside or in the wider midfield channels as the Scots looked to expose Brian O'Driscoll's perceived lack of pace in defence.

However, the Irish centre responded by making 14 tackles (a team high) which prompted Schmidt to compare the 35-year-old to Benjamin Button.

As for Maitland, his luminous yellow boots would flicker only until the 32nd minute when he came off worse in an aerial battle with Ireland's Rob Kearney. As Maitland fell his studs planted into the turf, causing him to wrench his knee in the most unforgiving manner.

Scotland coach Scott Johnson confirmed that Maitland had also been concussed.

There was a confrontational edge to the Scots' play early, which was borne out of Glasgow's habit of frustrating Schmidt's Leinster sides in the past where they always found a way to pour sand on the gearbox.

With nine Glasgow players in the team you could see the shrewdness of the intention but at this level it is a tactic that rarely lasts the course of 80 minutes. Despite the reputation for Schmidt teams to play high-octane rugby they are always comfortable to defend for long periods.

Looking ahead to this weekend's clash with Wales, Ireland captain Jamie Heaslip agreed that working out their tactics was not a job reserved for rocket scientists.

"Wales, while they play a very simple game, they play it very well and very hard and in rugby all you have to do is do the basics right and they have forwards who can get quick ball for a very big backline," he said.

"We'll have our work cut out for us."

Ireland 28
Scotland 6

- Independent

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